Dear all…

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Beautiful Sculpture outside Salisbury Cathedral. Autumn 2016.

Perhaps you are wondering what it is all this about.

It is about change, it is about growth. It is about starting a new journey.

It is about to generate new pathways instead of follow old known roads.

The Happy Boob Club is not dead! Oh no! it simply grew, like we all do. Now it is renamed “Motherhood. And…everything in between”. After a very very long thought I feel it was about time to reflect the change. Hence the change of name, the change of background.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

Last time I wrote…

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…I was writing about a dear friend of mine who was trying to understand what was going on with his partner and I explained to him according to all the “symptoms” he described thoroughly (you could tell by his writing in frustration and at a loss) I gather that his partner was with PPD (Post Partum Depression).

He is my friend, for that reason I was very understanding (and forgiving) about the way he approached it. His first thought was “She is going crazy!” . And probably if I did not go through it and experience it myself, I would think the same.

Sometimes I think to myself that it is a shame that I had to go through it in order to know what it was all about. And this same thought leads me to think that it would be ideal if the PPD was more widely known.  But hey, not everyone is open to the subject and the PPD  is quite “hush-hush don’t even mention it, you will bring shame on you!” sort of thing.

In the UK – and I am very clear about this, because I am ignorant if it happens in any other countries – women are offered pre natal classes, and there are classes for couples too. For women like me, who did not have the first clue how to fit a nappy, it was a life saviour but it did not prepared me for what was to come. It did give me a good base to make educated decisions together with a widen view on what is called “motherly instinct”.

How about start to offer – and somehow make them “mandatory” – PPD classes not only to the mothers but to the partners, family and close friends? I think it would be a great relief to anyone who is around a woman who just gave birth and in return, the newly mother would feel more support hence life would be more easy for all of those involved.

In any case, what follows is a BRILLIANT article written by Walker Karraa PhD., entitled “An open letter to women fighting post-partum depression and anxiety for (The Unexpected Project)” .

Thanks to Walter Karraa who kindly gave me permission on an email to publish it on my blog. and here is a direct link to the article: http://walkerkarraa.me/2013/05/14/an-open-letter-to-women-fighting-post-partum-depression-and-anxiety-for-the-unexpected-project/

Enjoy!

An open letter to women fighting post-partum depression and anxiety for (The Unexpected Project)

                                   Originally posted for The Unexpected Project, May 10, 2013

Dear ones,

It doesn’t get much harder than this, does it? There was nothing to prepare you for it, and undoubtedly those who tried didn’t do a very good job, or avoided the truth. You didn’t see it coming, and have been rocked to the core. I think the sense of confusion and isolation is so distressing. Not knowing what is happening, not having it addressed by care providers can add insult to injury. For the life of me I don’t know why it is so difficult for those who should know better to help us not suffer. I also know that despite it, women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMAD) persevere with grit and guts only the strongest of strong know.

Women who experience depression/anxiety during or after childbirth didn’t sign up for it, but have in their bones a power unsurpassed by most. Tis true! I know in my heart that they are made of the stuff great leader’s envy. Against all odds, and in the face of stigma, families that don’t understand, and providers who fail to ask, treat, or acknowledge symptoms—they fight. Even when you are not aware of it, you are fighting. Even when you allow yourself to tell your scariest truths about your scariest thoughts, you are fighting. When you make the call, make the appointment, walk into the emergency room, check into the hospital, finally take medication, reach a support group, read or write a post—you are courageously laying down everything you have known to be true and real and good in the world. And that, is strength born from love.

I know this from the countless women I have met and meet. I know this from the years of research and learning I have done, and I know this from my own experience of PPD. We birth a strength we never knew was possible from the most direct experience of love we will ever know.

I remember the faces of people staring at me, 8 months pregnant waiting to see my shrink at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital. See, I had been through one battle with PPD that nearly took me out. Dark, dark days. And I was NOT doing that again. So there I was, my Target maternity clothes, waddling up to the receptionist, the pharmacist, the OB/GYN, the family practitioner, the labor and delivery nurse and saying—I am getting help and giving you all the judgment, ignorance, and stigma you want. Enjoy it. Yes, I am a big crazy pregnant lady…think what you want. I am getting help.

We give it all up—right there in that one moment when we reach out for help. We have the guts to give up how we thought our lives were going to be—to stay alive for the greatest love we have and will ever know—our children. So, defiantly, we reach in our pockets and take out every last cent of ourselves—turning our pockets inside out to prove to those who need it, that we really have nothing left. Really. We hand over our bodies, our brains, relationships, and fantasies of motherhood—and we ask for, no… we demand, help. And we get better. We get ourselves out of the hole, so that our children will remain whole. Because if they lost us, they would never be okay.

I am 12 years out now, but I remember. And while I still battle depression demons, PPD taught me how to fight. So when they come, and they do, I say…bring it. Let’s party, Depression, because I have been through hell and back and I know how to roll with you old-school. Okay? Hell hath no fury like a mother who has had PPD. And, dear Depression, I would be delighted to go ninja on your ass any time at all.

You know it, too. You know that you have been through hell and back and have lived to tell the tale. Rock on.

Christmas is gone….

 

It was Christmas day (finally!!). It was my little one’s second Christmas, but I feel it was the first one.

Why?

Because this Christmas he was more “aware” of what was going on. I don’t think he can fully understand what was going on, particularly me going mental from one corner of the kitchen to the other and moving him away from the oven every time I wanted to check on the turkey.

We started the day “as usual as possible” giving him his usual breakfast. And then, the opening of the presents left under the tree. That was a marvel on its own for him I think. I could see on his face the wonder of ripping paper off to discover a wood train or a puzzle (it was a very conscious decision not to buy thousands of presents, just be ruthless with ourselves and go for a few things we knew he would like).

I think the present’s session did exhaust him, because after that he went straight for a nap, a long nap of an hour and a half. Enough time for me to tidy up the front room, set up the table and start cooking. Ah, and get changed into something more civilised and suitable for the occasion. I have to confess, this last thing – getting changed – was a whole challenge for me. Normally used to go around in casual clothes to go to work, then with my uniform at work and then when I get home get changed again into tracksuits and t-shirts, you know when you just get so used to do something and be a certain way, sometimes you forget and continue on the same routine despite the date and the occasion. But somehow I thought to do the effort, as my mother would say “for the picture”.

My little one woke up from his nap – just in time for the cooking – timing – frenzy kick off – and somehow everything went so smooth I can hardly believe. As I was cooking/peeling/chopping he brought some toys and played happily; no need to mention I ended up with all of his toys in the kitchen in less than an hour. But that is a blessing in disguise considering he did not try to help me to cook on this particular occasion.

We had lunch all together and the brussels sprouts where a hit for him. He loved them, and the carrots and the parsnips. No turkey for him – he gave it a miss – but the rest was a whole feast in itself, and that is not mentioning his devotion to Yorkshire puddings. As we ended completely stuffed, he was ready to carry on playing and running around the flat.

Time for the Queen’s speech! And that was the only time I turned the TV on. He was absolutely besotted for 2 minutes. Then he started to try to turn it off, either by using his fake remote control (yes, an old remote control saved countless discussions!) or the on/off button. I have to say I found it hilarious to say the least!! The Queen’s speech gone, TV off, so we carry on playing for the rest of the afternoon.

The day ended as it normally ends, with his dinner, some quiet play, bath and bed. He was – I want to think – a happy boy for the day.

As for me, I am happy, contented. If I look back a year ago, I remember myself being lost, confused, trying to get into terms of this thing of being a mum, trying to understand my son, who at the time was so small and fragile. I can see now that my son was not the only one who was fragile; I can see now I was fragile as well, trying to stand up – or at least trying to hold my head up whilst holding the most precious gift life could ever give me.

It is fair to say that as my little one grows in strength I do so as well. I think we are both growing and learning from each other, following the natural flow of life, I think trying to understand less and starting to enjoy each moment more.

And that can only be a good thing.